People ask me what exactly “pinned and recessed” means when they hear it at the counter. It’s usually someone new to shooting and collecting, but sometimes it’s an old hand that never shot revolvers before.
The term pinned and recessed comes from the Smith & Wesson line and refers to build features on older pistols. It was these features a buddy in the early 80’s gave me the heads up on to check them out. That got me interested in seeing them in person as his living was specifically firearms orientated. At the time I was involved with nuclear submarine repair as a machinist and precision was my thing. I understood metals and machining techniques and what was easily done vs difficult.
Putting a pre 1982 S&W in your hands for the first time is eye opening. The level of precision is stunning and so much so it seems as if it’s the most natural thing in the world when your hand marries it. As you roll it over you don’t even pick up the fact that there is a “pin” in the top strap. Your first inclination is to naturally push the cylinder release forward and open the cylinder. Think about it, what do you do first? The obvious reason that people gravitate to when answering this question is they want to see if it’s loaded. Considering I just showed it as empty, closed it and handed it over right to their hand there is another reason. Everything is so much more natural with a revolver that it literally takes no experience to know how they function.
Upon inspection of the cylinder face the observer will note that the cylinder is counter bored. This counter bore is what is called “recessed” in the vernacular. If you drop in a cartridge the rim fits perfectly into it leaving a flush fit. The machining process of counter boring the cylinder is a premium feature and it adds cost to the pistol manufacturing process which the customer has to bear.
The “pin” in the top strap is there to strengthen the barrel to fame joint where they are mated and also represents added cost to the manufacturing. Yes the customer has to bear that cost too. These added costs to the price of the pistol was the reason Smith & Wesson discontinued them as standard features in 1982. The end user simply wanted cheaper guns and about this time the plastic guns started to emerge in the market place.
Today cost seems to drive the beginner market, people just want to have a gun but don’t care about quality as in the past. Good enough mentality ensures price remains the driving force in the market segment.The over abundant plastic or “polymer” as they like to call it handgun is by far the most asked for at the counter, however more and more people are seeking out the old gold. Let’s face it plastic guns are like belly buttons, everyone has one, and none are very remarkable. After the buzz of buying wears off the plastic gun owner needs to justify his purchase with tall claims of accuracy, or elevated capacity, or tactical superiority, blah blah blah. When the shooter starts to want something nice they come back and stand at the counter gazing at old revolvers made out of steel. The plastic gun shooter will always balk at price but understands that their belly button gun is not worth anything when they try to sell it. There’s the rub, throwing away money on some instant gratification. The new generation saw a video online and unbeknownst to them they have fallen to marketing disguised as a relevant review.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very technical and like to ride the edge of possibility the same as anyone else but I know a good thing when I see it. Not everyone can afford a pinned and recessed S&W wheel gun, and for those instant no money shooters plastic remains as a cheap option. For the shooter with a bit more money or better saving and spending habits there’s the good stuff. The Gun Room Inc. is no doubt more into the good stuff over plastic fantastic throw away guns and this is precisely the reason I go there.
Don’t be surprised when the latest tactical article looses it’s luster and you want something fun, accurate and natural to shoot. Don’t be surprised when you compare a hand fitted and tuned S&W to a new model whatever. They cost as much or often times more. It’s a lot harder to make pistols by hand one at a time then it is to empty molds and drop in stamped parts on volume cheap guns. If your mantra is “As long as it goes bang” you’re not even playing the same sport. If you want to hit the “X” in the center of the bulls eye then have a look at some of the older S&W pistols The Gun Room Inc. has to offer.
For people who want the old craftsmanship but new school materials take a look at S&W Performance Center firearms. You’ll pay more but you get the best of both worlds.